Tax expert to Vanuatu Govt: don’t repeat the mistakes of the 1990sPosted: August 3, 2017
A story familiar to many here in Vanuatu and especially those concerned in Finance in government: Nik Soni, who worked with governments here that long ago, after a well developed advisory time in other developing countries, had much to say about Vanuatu’s yet-to-be-unveiled tax plan on Coffee & Controversy on Buzz 96 FM on Tuesday. Not repeating the mistakes of the 1990 is surely the clearest signal of where we are likely to go wrong. But before getting on to the worst early wrongdoings of the late 1990s, Soni was full of praise for the 2017 Government making so much more of public consultation. Too right.
The nitty-gritty of where Vanuatu started going wrong in the 1990s, according to Nik Soni is the balance between income tax and VAT. 20 years ago, Soni revealed, VAT “was chosen as the preferred tax option because it was easier to collect than income tax. Ironically, now income tax is being touted as the best way to compensate for difficulty in collecting sufficient VAT revenues”
He goes on: “I’m not saying I’m for it or against it. I think there needs to be a real understanding of what the implications are. A lot of the positives in the income tax are based around one figure which is this revenue. I don’t know who did it, but that figure is essentially it. The benefit of income tax, as far as the report goes, is that one figure. That’s a very dangerous way to do government policy”, he says. Daily Post carries the full report of the tax discussion.
New Zealand is strongly backing up its support for Correctional Services, which in Santo will now be known as Mauria meaning ‘new life’ in a Santo language. Mauria is the new correctional facility in the northern town and cost the Government of New Zealand Vt 180 million, and supplied a good working environment for some 200 local workers as the building went on. Learning to change attitudes and behaviour and respect the lives and rights of others will be topics of discussion often enough in Mauria.